FinTrU's Richard McGuinness: Focusing on the ‘tech’ in ‘fintech’
MONDAY 27 APRIL 2020
This article first appeared on Sync NI on Tuesday 21 April 2020.
Founded in December 2013, FinTrU has become well established as a homegrown financial services company in Northern Ireland, with over 450 employees to date.
However, the fintech firm wants to start emphasising the ‘tech’ part of its division, according to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard McGuinness.
He told Sync NI that “FinTrU isn’t just what people perceive it to be - which is a hugely exciting financial services company - but it is also becoming exciting for technologists.”
He continued: “We have to develop as a tech company, the business landscape we operate in is changing. We will never lose the services side of our business, but we recognise that developments in technology will continue to change the operating landscapes in investment banks and we must get ahead of that.
“Being part of something that has grown at such a pace and will continue to grow into a sizeable tech company in its own right is a really exciting thing for Belfast, to have a homegrown tech company on their own doorstep, working with the world’s biggest and best investment banks.
“Working with those banks, we already look at ourselves at having a huge advantage in the fintech world. We know what some of their pain points are and we are well placed to develop platforms for those banks that will help deliver to their clients."
The firm is still heavily recruiting, particularly within the tech sector. Despite the current environment FinTrU had 11 new hires joining yesterday and 20 more that joined at the start of April.
When asked if this was part of FinTrU’s overall growth plan or if it was in response to higher pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard said “additional project work from clients came in just before COVID-19 kicked off so we’ve been hiring for that.”
“We always had a plan to grow to about 600 employees by the end of the year. It has been challenging but the technology has worked for us. We have been able to do all out interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training virtually and it is working well. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.”
He added that client services have continued uninterrupted and “business is strong despite everything that’s going on. This has been helped by everyone in the business quickly adapting to working from home and maintaining, and in a lot of cases exceeding, productivity targets.”
Tech roles and Assured Skills Academies
FinTrU is currently recruiting for between 15 and 20 tech roles but want to hire incrementally around that in the future, with possible plans for a technology-focused Assured Skills Academy.
Richard commented: “Applications just closed a few nights ago for our latest financial services Belfast-based academy, for which online training will begin in the next few weeks.
“The North West course is now running and is into its third week, they’re all due to come into the business in a fortnight.
“All the academies are now being run virtually which is quite a change from six weeks in the classroom, but it’s been going remarkably well.
“Some people have been brought onto our tech teams through the financial skills academies, but we really want to have a tech-centred programme. It’s just a matter of rethinking everything right now.”
Retaining NI’s talent
Last year, Northern Ireland’s fintech envoy Andrew Jenkins commented that a third of Northern Ireland’s graduates leave the country every year.
Richard believes that through initiatives like the Assured Skills Academies, talent can be retained if more companies get involved, as they are “a great way to learn about a business and get into it quickly.”
He concluded: “The market for technology is massively hot and if grads can see there’s real career and salary progression within tech companies in Northern Ireland, that will be a huge sell.
“There needs to be those options for people to see that they can stay in Northern Ireland instead of searching for the bright lights of London or elsewhere.
“We need to build our talent from the graduate level up. The market is too small for the number of roles we have out there at the minute.”